Saturday, April 14, 2018

James Review -- Kris Longknife’s Successor

This week I decided to review Kris Longknife’s Successor by Mike Shepherd. 

The story begins with Grand Admiral Santiago attending a briefing on what has been happening in the Alwa system while she was away. The briefing starts with a discussion of Nuu Enterprise’s attempt to reclaim the Alwa system’s nationalized industries and Rita Nuu-Longknife’s plans to counter the actions of her son Alex, now CEO of the corporation founded by her father. The topic soon shifts to discoveries from a DNA analysis of the People and a discussion of how their former masters might have bred them to be submissive. Finally, the topic shifts to their feline allies who are withholding support unless more battlecruisers are assigned to defend their world and they receive help in setting up advanced industry and dealing with economic problems.

Soon news arrives that a convoy from human space has encountered a People force near the observation net for the systems surrounding the Cat homeworld. Santiago personally leads a task force to reinforce the fleet stationed there but finds herself struggling to work through cat politics in hope of gaining the support needed to defend the systems she is responsible for. But even as meetings between the Cat nations take place, multiple People task forces are detected closing on the feline world. Santiago is forced to disperse her ships to meet the various threats while trying to convince the Cats to release more nukes to the human fleets. And the People have many surprises of their own waiting from longer ranged weapons, and People versions of the frigates that proved so effective in the early stages of the conflict, to new tactics and adaptations of some of the more effective human plans. All of which must be faced by vastly outnumbered human and allied fleets…

I give this book 9 out of 10. I found the discussions of the suspected history of the People and their extinct masters both chilling and fascinating, though I question if such a plan could really work for long. The new insights into both Cat and People culture were interesting as well. And I consider the battles to be the best the author has written in a long time. While I still find the all-battlecruiser human fleets bland, the variety of the People fleets and the various conditions the battles took place under keep them from becoming boring. Also, the author does a good job of juggling multiple concurrent or nearly concurrent battles while leaving no significant chance that a reader might have trouble recalling what is happening in each battle.

However none of the questions that I feared would not be answered from the last book were answered in this one. And while the Rita Longknife sequences might lead to interesting things later currently they add little or no needed material to the story in my opinion. I feel this plot could have easily been shifted to a short story rather then being added to a novel.

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